Like the previous-gen model, the Ryzen 5 3400G delivers on its promise of bringing passable 1080p framerates to the most budget of gaming rigs, albeit at the cost of lowered quality settings and a narrower cross-section of games. Performance is even better if you step back to 1280x720.
The Ryzen 5 3400G's solder TIM paired with the more efficient 12nm process opens up more overclocking headroom, and the beefier 95W Wraith Spire cooler gives you plenty of room for overclocking. Overall the chip was an easy overclocker, especially if you go the auto-overclocking route. You'll get solid results if you invest some time in overclocking the graphics and memory, particularly for iGPU gaming (albeit with a more expensive memory kit).
For enthusiasts after the best low-resolution gaming solution at the lowest possible cost, the Ryzen series of APUs remain the uncontested leaders, but they do have a narrow appeal.
If gaming isn't a focus, the Core i3-9100 is faster than the 3400G in a broad spate of everyday applications, but at a lower price point. However, its integrated graphics are woefully inadequate for gaming, and the $122 price point doesn't leave as much room in the budget for a decent graphics card. Intel's next step up the ladder, the Core i3-9350K, isn't a good value even in its higher price bracket, so it's largely irrelevant in the 3400G's price range. Lower-end Pentium models remain either scarce or price-gouged in the face of Intel's ongoing shortage, so they aren't a viable alternative, either.
Instead, the 3400G's biggest competition lies within AMD's own lineup of previous-gen chips. If productivity is a focus, you can pick up the Ryzen 5 1600 at incredibly low pricing. As of the time of writing, you can find a six-core 12-thread Ryzen 5 1600 for under $100, which grants plenty of extra performance in threaded workloads and leaves room in your budget for a low-cost discrete graphics card. You'll spend a bit more money overall, but come out far ahead on performance. Likewise, you could opt for even cheaper previous-gen models, like the Ryzen 3 1200, for as little as $65. That leaves even more room for a discrete graphics card, particularly if you shop around for a second-hand GPU.
The Ryzen 5 3400G is still an iterative update, so the Ryzen 5 2400G offers most of its performance, but has sold at sub-$100 pricing in the past. Unfortunately, that chip is currently either out of stock or selling at inflated pricing, and there's no guarantee that it will come back into stock.
That leaves the 3400G as the best option if you're interested in the highest-powered integrated graphics for small compact builds, HTPCs, and the most budget of gaming rigs, but keep your eye out for sales – you could cobble together a more powerful system based on an older Ryzen chip.
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